Responding in Moderation


Ugh, the dreaded negative feedback response.  This week, as an exercise in moderation, I am responding to two fictional Facebook posts.  While the language and approach of the posters in not exactly how I would go about things, I think as a social media manager, a tempered response in necessary and appropriate in both instances.  Effort is important, and occasionally, a response is all the poster is looking for (though doubtful in this case!)

Comment 1:

I am disgusted about the state of your store on 1467 Justin Kings Way. The counter was smeared in what looked like grease and the tables were full of trash and remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

I apologize that your experience was anything less than perfect at our Justin Kings Way store.  We pride ourselves on cleanliness, efficiency, and customer service – and the conditions you reported are simply unacceptable.  Rest assured that this is under investigation.  Please direct message me the best way to get in contact with you directly so that we can handle this matter.  Thank you for your patronage and for bringing this issue to our attention.

I hope that the customer understands that this is not how we run our stores, and that the store involved will be reprimanded.  By asking for their contact information, the opinion is valued and we have the opportunity to privately make amends for the unpleasant experience.

Comment 2:

Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.

XXX News provides unbiased and accurate information in all of our reports, and we stand behind our reports on the Middle East.  Though this is a controversial issue, we make every effort to represent both sides of the story.  As the story and situation continues to develop and unfold, we will continue to interview and air footage from representatives of both sides.  Please feel free to engage in healthy debate and conversation on our message boards.  However, please be aware that inappropriate language will result in a loss of posting privileges.

Directing the poster to the message board to continue the conversation helps them not feel dismissed, but removes the negative comments from the Facebook page.  I feel I stood up for the integrity of the news outlet, while offering to continue the conversation in a productive manner.  Addressing the language etiquette standards of the message board addresses the foul language without scolding the poster.



7 thoughts on “Responding in Moderation

  1. As I have said to others, you’d maybe want to respond initially to the restaurant complaint with a “we’re listening, we’re concerned, we’re investigating” post. The TV example is more complex. More on this soon……. Thanks!

  2. Great post Lesley! You definitely handled both of these responses as gracefully as you could, probably even more than I did. I’m not sure if I would have said that the restaurant would be reprimanded, because at this point we are not certain that the customer is being truthful. Bringing the conversation off the comments is also the right move.

    I like that you warned him about the consequences of violating the no profane language policy. But I love the way you spun it so it focused more on the rule rather than the comment itself. It was also a good idea to move the conversation to a message board, where the policies are a little more laid-back. After you moved the customer away from the comments, would you have deleted the original comment?

  3. Hi Leslie!

    We are totally on the same page it seems! I like how you used the word “unacceptable” in your first response – I think this shows that you agree with the customer that the store’s cleanliness should be a top priority and anything less should be addressed. I also think that it’s important to take the conversation offline – make the initial apology, but then ask for the customer to directly contact you to further address the situation. You probably don’t want all of his gruesome details posted on your Facebook page!

    With the second situation, I agree with your approach 100%! I don’t think that there is any need to remove the comment or to even ask the user to contact you directly. We have the right to our own opinions and as long as the user is not being vulgar, they can express those opinions. I liked how you directed him to a location that welcomes a “healthy debate” and would engage him in a more educational conversation. I do agree that his use of a curse word needs to be pointed out and the user needs to be informed that this is not acceptable behavior.

    1. Thanks, Lacee. After reading your responses, I felt we were very similarly aligned in our responses. Sean brought up a good point about directing posters to the guidelines. I saw this in some other people’s responses as well. I think if was to edit, I add that suggestion in.

  4. For the restaurant, I think the most important thing is to follow up with the customer. It shows that you care and that you’re paying attention. I was talking to a restaurant yesterday and their follow up looks like this: the compliant is received and customer service calls the customer. It is the passed off to a district manager who also calls the customer. Is in then passed off to the individual restaurant owner who then has the opportunity to reach out to the customer as well. Regardless of the outcome, the individual is sent a gift card. Talk about going above and beyond!

    I thought your broadcast response was well worded. You did a great job simmering tempers without embarrassing or dismissing them. It’s a subtle warning not to do it again…or else. Directing the poster to the guidelines is another good idea. Simply stating them doesn’t do much for a user, but giving them the guidelines puts the responsibility in their hands. Then they know what’s allowed and what isn’t, what you’ll tolerate and what you won’t.

    1. Sean, thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I have dealt with a restaurant before and went through similar train of customer service as the one you described. I think the value lands in feeling heard and valued.
      Also, good point about putting the responsibility on the poster by directing them to the guidelines. A nice way of saying, we warned you!

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